Review of Good Nature Album by Youthmovies

Good Nature
Album Review
Drowned In Sound Recordings

Youthmovies Good Nature Album

As hard to believe as it may be, 'Good Nature' is actually Youthmovies' first full-length album. For a band who seem to have been around for the best part of this millennium, and already released several highly-acclaimed Eps and mini-albums, its probably something of a travesty that its taken until now for someone to take the plunge and orchestrate the release of their first real commercial statement.

'What?' I hear you say. Mentioning the words 'Youthmovies' and 'commercial' in the same sentence? Surely some mistake there.'fraid not. You see, we're not talking commercial in a radio friendly sell-out pop pap manner, but at long last anyone who's read the numerous blogs, been party to the unlimited words of mouth spoken about the Oxford five-piece or even been fortunate enough to witness one of their performances in the flesh, they'll now be able to purchase a memento without spending silly money on eBay, or lo-and-behold, risking life and limb (not to mention a hefty fine) on some illegal file-sharing site.

Of course its nigh-on impossible to talk about Youthmovies - the Soundtrack Strategies extension of their name now a distant memory of their past - without giving some mention to their long-standing association with Oxford's other, slightly more well-known five-piece Foals; without repeating what's already been said a million times, founder member Andrew Mears went in one direction, the rest of Foals in the other, hence the reason why both bands are where they're at now. Or is it? Because for all Youthmovies' inventiveness and almost impossible to categorise array of sounds, there are undoubted elements of 'Good Nature' that owe more than a passing nod to Mears' old mockers, whether that be the four-by-four guitar riffs that punctuate the likes of 'Soandso & Soandso' or 'If You'd Seen A Battlefield', or the occasional urge to just take their post-progressive rock that one step further into brassy funk territories ('Cannula').

However, that shouldn't be held against them. After all, for a band whose initial steps were taken in a purely post-rock field their development over the course of the past five years has been nothing short of astonishing. In fact, the only real letdown with this record is the occasionally tinny production and low-in-the-mix mastering, which at times renders it unequivocally quiet in places without the assistance of a hearing aid or some similar kind of device. Obviously the input of both long-time cohort Ant Theaker and Shellac stalwart Bob Weston was designed to give 'Good Nature' both a natural yet lo-fi feel - and for the most part they've got it right - yet from the outset both 'Magdalen Bridge' and 'The Naughtiest Girl Is A Monitor' both sound in need of a good re-recording, or superior quality mix at least.

Elsewhere though, 'Good Nature' is pretty much faultless, the complex time signatures of 'Last Night Of The Proms' effortlessly segueing into 'Cannula''s dance-infused beats while the penultimate barnstorming epic that is 'Archive It Everywhere' really sets the standards not only in terms of Youthmovies output both past and present, but also for any other experimentally-tinged artists out there. Lyrically candescant - as indeed is most of 'Good Nature' - yet hauntingly desolate, 'Archive It.' is easily Youthmovies finest six minutes thus far, and yet another avenue of diversity mastered with aplomb at the first time of asking.

Where their contemporaries, both obvious and not-so, may have one eye on the sales charts nowadays, Youthmovies have shown with 'Good Nature' that originality is the ultimate key to longevity, and you can bet your bottom dollar that when most of the here-today, gone-tomorrow scene hoppers fall by the wayside, Mears, English and company will already have conquered their next voyage of discovery.

Timeless then, but did you really expect anything less?

Dom Gourlay

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